Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing landlords and tenants of negligence in connection with a warehouse fire that caused a discharge in the Dominguez Canal last year, causing a foul smell in the Carson area for weeks and displacing thousands of residents.
The county, along with its fire protection and flood control districts, said owners and tenants of the warehouse were aware of the fire code and hazmat violations prior to the blaze. September 30, but did nothing to mitigate them. He is seeking to recover millions of dollars in costs associated with investigations, cleanup and public relocation efforts, as well as civil injunctions and penalties.
According to the complaint, the fire and the subsequent dumping of hazardous materials into the storm sewers and into the canal “should never have happened.” Months before the fire, according to the complaint, the defendants knew that the hazardous materials illegally stored in the warehouse “presented a serious fire hazard”.
The warehouse on South Avalon Boulevard in Carson is owned by Prologis Inc. and was leased at the time of the fire by makeup companies Virgin Scent Inc. and Day to Day Imports Inc. Day to Day and Virgin Scent are owned and operated by Akiva Nurollah, Yosef Nourollah, Yehuda Nurollah, and Yaakov Nourollah, according to the complaint.
In March, a Prologis technician inspecting the warehouse noticed pallets of flammable materials in an outdoor storage yard stacked 15 to 20 feet high, with boxes leaning over and spilling onto the floor.
The technician reported what he found to the property manager, who informed the tenants.
Two months later, after the Fire Protection District cited Day to Day for improperly storing hundreds of pallets of flammable liquid in a separate warehouse on East 59th Street in Los Angeles, inspectors learned that the company could also improperly store hazardous or flammable materials at its Carson warehouse.
In May, the Fire Protection District inspected the Carson warehouse and again cited Day to Day with improper storage of hazardous materials including essential oils and hand sanitizer.
Inspectors returned in July and August to find that the violations had not been rectified and that, in some cases, the situation had worsened.
In July, the district “observed millions of pounds of flammable materials haphazardly stored in the outdoor yard” and in August, “inspectors observed that the fire department access road was blocked… by hundreds of pallets of disinfectant for hands”.
Weeks later, on the afternoon of September 30, the fire began, “fueled by more than ten million pounds of flammable and hazardous materials illegally stored there,” according to the complaint.
It took firefighters three days to extinguish the blaze. The millions of gallons of water they used washed the chemicals and debris into the storm drains that feed the Dominguez Canal.
After the fire, the defendants allegedly failed to clean up the site properly. The Fire Protection District again issued numerous citations.
In early October, locals began reporting the smell of rotten eggs, sewage and vomit emanating from the canal. The smell caused nausea, vomiting and headaches and was considered a public health nuisance.
“The foul odor lingered for weeks and rendered a significant portion of the town of Carson and surrounding areas nearly unlivable,” the complaint states.
Thousands of residents have been temporarily displaced from their homes due to the smell, which the complaint says was caused by materials that were washed into the canal, “causing an unprecedented release of hydrogen sulfide … in the air”.
County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, whose district includes Carson, said in a statement that the lawsuit was central to efforts to hold communities around the Dominguez Canal to account.
“While this legal action does not repair all of the harm and inconvenience suffered by the thousands of affected residents,” she said, “it will help ensure that those at fault pay for the pain they have caused. which could have been avoided”.